Pac-12 Has Nothing to Fear of College Playoff but Fear Itself
Thursday the South Bend Tribune reported Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick said the new four team playoff selection process, set to be implemented in 2014, will include a top 20 poll to begin at mid-season. If the best four teams are used at the end of the season the Pac-12 will be in good standing. However, Over 100 years of college football has proven that “best” is in the eye of the beholder.
Swarbrick representing the Golden Domers noted that ND will have to meet a set of criteria to be invited to the playoff.
Creating a top 20 mid-season on is eerily similar to the BCS rankings that have been revealed after week 8. What ingredients will go into this so called top 20 are uncertain. What we think we know is that the selection committee will favor conference champions and strength of schedule.
Not to be the one to ruin the party but I have to say that I’m getting just a little confused. I apologize for being the person in the back of the class who has to raise a hand on this, but, if there is a poll set up to help determine the final four teams why do we need a selection committee?
Perception is everything and the conference commissioners know the collective sports world is watching their every move. Fans in tin-foil hats are at the ready to scream conspiracy the first time the fifth best team overtakes the fourth for a final playoff position.
If the selection committee selects a team outside of the final poll’s top four, why would the poll be necessary?
Another caveat of the playoff system beginning in 2014 is the end of the automatic qualifier. AQ status isn’t a huge deal for the SEC, but for a conference like the Big East (who just lost its golden guaranteed ticket to a BCS bowl) or the Mountain West (who asked and was rejected AQ status) it’s a huge deal. A millions of dollars kind of deal.
Let us assume that the selection committee will stay true to this presumed top 20 poll. The Pac-12 is in good standing. If the BCS polls at the end of the regular season are used as a barometer, than the four team playoff system should routinely include schools on Pac-12 campuses. Should.
In 13 years of BCS polling the Pac-12 has had at least one team in the final four going into the National Championship game eight times. If the committee values a conference champion and strength of schedule, one would think most years would include a team from the Pac-12.
If this top 20 poll has a similar makeup to the BCS it would be hard to imagine a Pac-12 team finishing undefeated, or with one loss usurped by a team from another conference with two losses. Logic isn’t a virtue in the world of pollsters. Additionally the Pac-12, as powerful as it may be, has the geographical issue of playing games when many writers out East are already fast asleep dreaming of Big Ten and SEC teams.
The good news is the future committee will likely contain members from each region of the country, giving the Pac-12 at least one voice on the table. Maybe the Pac-12 champion will get the benefit of the doubt over another conference’s runner up with the same record to avoid a similar conference rematch as witnessed this past January.
Whatever the future holds, the power teams in the Pac-12 should face it head on with confidence. That being said, keep the aluminum foil in the drawer just in case.